A blog from Ian Stewart, written for Lonely Planet


Freediving. It’s easy to understand its appeal. Keen to experience the deep ocean without the cumbersome steel tank and tangle of tubes myself, I decided to give it a whirl on a trip to Indonesia’s Gili Islands.

Freediving Gili Islands
Image by Alex Kidd


Freediving is an athletic sport, requiring a certain standard of fitness so you can swim down to a reef and then fin your way up to the surface again. I’ve snorkeled for years, but aware that my technique and safety awareness was lacking, I enrolled on a course at Freedive Gili in gorgeous Gili Trawangan, a small island off the northwestern coast of Lombok. The school is owned by Mike Board, UK Full Immersion freedive record holder and his partner Kate Middleton (no British royal relation!), yoga teacher, and also an expert freediver.

A Growing Sport

Humans have freedived for millennia. Scandinavian records of freediving date back to 5000BC, the ancient Greeks practised it, and communities of women in Japan (known as ama) and Korea (haenyeo) freedive today to gather shellfish, seaweed and pearls.
Competitive freediving (immortalised in the film The Big Blue) has really taken off in the last 20 years and there are now events and championships all over the world. But for most of us mortals, recreational freediving is all about learning to snorkel more efficiently so we can see more oceanic life.

Courses and instruction are organised by both the SSI (Scuba Schools International; divessi.com) and AIDA (aidainternational.org).

Freediving Gili Islands

You can continue reading Iain Stewart’s blog about freediving in Indonesia here. Would you like to know which dive centers on the Gili Islands offer freediving? Click here for a complete overview. Enjoy!

Feel free to share the sunshine!

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